Monday, May 21, 2007

Tough Weekend

The title of my blog is, “Living with Head and Neck Cancer.” I bring this up because for me the emphasis is on “living,” not “cancer.” I try to live each day as best I can within the constraints of my disease. Sometimes however, the “cancer” takes center stage. That was the case this past three days. I’ve mentioned before that the chemo drugs are what makes one feel ill at this stage. For me, that was true in spades Friday through to Sunday. I won’t repeat the side-effects, they are enumerated in earlier blog entries and are already boring to me; I don’t want them to bore you as well.

So, my focus today may be just as mundane, but it captures the highlights of this weekend. 98% of the weekend was spent in bed. I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere else or do anything else.

During the weekend…

I played a great game, Labyrinth, with my daughter. It’s a board game which takes a lot of strategy; she won this time, but not always. I recommend it strongly for ages 8 and up. We’ve been playing this for 5 or 6 years now. We’re quite competitive when it comes to winning. Needless to say, I wasn’t up to my “A” game on Saturday.

Two very good friends stopped by on Sunday afternoon for a few hours. I didn’t know if I was up for seeing anyone, but it made me rally and I think we all had a good time telling stories, listening to some humorous music (“1985” by Bowling for Soup, “I kissed a Girl” by Jill Sobule (she’s been one of my favorites for almost 10 years), and others), and general catching up. My wife and I saw Jill Sobule perform live once in a small venue in Washington, DC on a rainy lightening/thunderous Sunday evening about 4 – 5 years ago. It was a charity benefit for women’s health. Due to the weather, it being a Sunday night, and a small venue, there was not a big turnout. Jill has 6+ CDs out in the major record stores. She invited me on stage with her to hold some sheet music for one of her songs currently under development. After the show, we bought a CD which she signed made out to my daughter. That was a fun evening. If ever given the chance, I’d like to hang out with her sometime.

WARNING -- if you are not into golf, skip this paragraph, it’s long and it’s all about golf. I watched golf, the AT&T Classic at Sawgrass, on Saturday and Sunday. I love watching golf when Tiger Woods is playing. There is a good chance I won’t watch, or watch as diligently, when he is not playing. However, this match really got my attention because the top three players in the world were not playing: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Vijay Singh. That left the field wide open. An individual I had not heard of, Ryuji Imada, ranked 61st in 2007 coming into this tournament had the 36 and 54 lead (or co-lead). I liked him and his play. 5’8”, 150 pounds, 30 years old, originally from Japan, but has been here since he was 14 years old. He led (or co-led) 95% of the way through round 4, the final round. I was rooting for him. While he was finishing the 17th hole, Zach Johnson took the lead on the 18th hole with a birdie. Zach won this event last year as well as this year’s Masters at Augusta over Tiger Woods. Zach is also a very likeable guy. On the 18th hole, Ryuji had a very tough chip shot to get it near the hole so that he could tie Zack. He pitched and put it about a foot from the hole. This led to a sudden death playoff back to the 18th hole, a 576 yard par 5 with the last 100 yards (or so) a carryover over water. Sudden death play-by-play. Ryuji hits first. Ball flies 300+ yards, but hangs up just off the fairway about 250 yards from the flag. Zack hits next, it is a terrific tee shot ending up about 225 yards from the flag in the middle of the fairway. Ryuji has a choice here, he can lay up, and then go for a birdie after a relatively easy (for him) wedge or 9 iron shot to the green or he can go for it. From there he can putt for birdie. He was ranked number one in putting for this tournament. His putting was unbelievable. He knows that Zack is going to go for it. It was a close call, but if I were Ryuji, I would have laid up. Ryuji goes for it. It flies straight for the flag. It lands about 15 feet short of the flag… in the water, ouch. It missed the pond bank by about 4 feet. Zack hits his fairway shot. It lands on the front of the green, rolls back to the back of the green, and stops about 45 feet from the pin on the putting surface. Ryuji takes his drop from the drop zone. He is now hitting 4 from about 105 yards out. He lands it on the green and it stops about 5 or 6 feet from the pin. There is a good chance he will save his par. Zack putts. The ball stops 2 inches from the hole. He taps in for his birdie. Game over. If I could have sat up, I would have been on the edge of my bed. I couldn’t really sit up, so I watched this laying down. This tournament was a terrific distraction from my not feeling well.

What else did I do this weekend? I read my two favorite Newspapers. The Friday and Saturday Wall Street Journal and the Sunday New York Times. The Times had a great article about how older people are caught up in scams and how truly legitimate companies, mostly unwittingly (but not all), facilitate these scams. If you think filling out a form to win a free lottery or prize is really “free,” you may want to reconsider this thinking. Your name, address, and phone number can end up on a mailing list which is sold to both legitimate and sometime illegitimate businesses. The scams are ingenious and under the right (or wrong) circumstances, even an astute individual may fall prey to the deception. I also read about 70% of my latest book by Michael Connelly, The Last Coyote. I’ve read about 4 or 5 of his books recently. Good detective story, mystery writing material.

Lastly, I wrote a list of my negative side effects which I will e-mail to my doctor today. I also took my temperature about a zillion times. There are trigger points which will necessitate a trip to the emergency room. I didn’t hit any of them. I want to continue to make sure that I’m healthy enough to get my next chemo treatment. It would be a shame if the chemo gets me before the cancer does.

The above leaves a few questions. What didn’t I do this weekend and is life really so bad? I didn’t help my daughter with her studies although she asked me. I like helping her, but just felt crappy and couldn’t do it. I felt bad about this. I’m pretty sure she understands. I didn’t help around the house. I don’t do that much around the house anyway, but I usually do something. I didn’t chauffer my daughter to school or a friend’s house. My wife and I usually share this responsibility. I like doing things for my daughter and my wife. I didn’t do any pottery. I didn’t go outside. I’m a very active person. So, to answer the above question, is life really so bad? It was really tough feeling very ill all weekend and not knowing how long it will last, but I made the best of it. It is noon on Monday and so far today I’m feeling a bit better. But, once again, I dread going to the hospital for my next chemo treatment in two days.

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